May 2008 Archives

bg_drinks.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Restaurant ratings giant Zagat - which provides user-generated reviews of restaurants across the US and in some well-traveled international cities - recently announced the debut of drinkwellTM (idrinkwell.com), the first online guide to restaurants dedicated to serving the highest quality drinks and drink service - and that includes wine. The new ratings system is a boon for anyone who's ever wondered how an eatery fares not just in terms of what comes out of the kitchen, but also in terms of what comes across the bar.

rmondavi2.jpgby Courtney Cochran

The recent passing of the man who was widely known as the patriarch of California wine caused us to reflect on just what it means to have been Robert Mondavi.  Frequently described as larger than life, the Minnesota-born son of Italian immigrants was a marketing mastermind who can be credited not only with putting California on the global wine map, he also with leaving an indelible mark on the American wine scene. Read on for highlights of Mondavi's most significant contributions to wine as we know it.    

Toast to Mr. Mondavi

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Robert_Mondavi_1984.jpgBy Robert Farmer
If you enjoy or even appreciate a little, California wines, then Robert Mondovi has impacted your life. It may not be in an obvious way, but the legendary vintner and wine-making pioneer has left his mark so indelibly upon the California wine industry that even a casual fan of wines from the Golden State has been influenced in some way by the man.


So as an industry offers an ongoing toast in honor of the late Mondavi, who passed away recently at the age of 94, I encourage everybody to raise a glass and salute him in their own unique way and honor one of life's true visionaries.
robertmondavi.jpegBy Robert Farmer

Without the life of Robert Mondavi, one could strongly argue, the California Wine Industry would not exist in its current form. And so it is more than appropriate in light of his recent passing, that the praise being showered on the man in his wake be commensurate with his lasting impact. Perhaps no single person had such a pronounced impact on California Wine Country. With remarkable vision and diligence Mondavi steered the current irresistible force that is California Wine.

It was Mondavi who led California wine producers out of their mass-production jug-wine mentality and into the light of quality, limited-yield wines that would ultimately be judged on par with the great vintages of Europe.

R. Mondavi - With Respect

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rmondavi.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Growing up in a small town in Central California, good wine was difficult - if not downright impossible at times - to find.  And since I had the good fortune of having parents with a European sensibility when it came to sharing wine with their kids, I developed a good enough palate early on to feel the pain, so to speak, when the vino on the table wasn't up to snuff.
marilynwine.jpgby Courtney Cochran

From Major Leaguers to major religious leaders, celebrities of all stripes are catching the wine bug these days, lending their names and likenesses to bottles, participating in the promotion of the wines and sometimes even cuing up the blends themselves.  And while celebrity wines are hardly a new phenomenon, the most recent influx of offerings brings with it a surprisingly diverse mix of celebs, not to mention a fascinating blend of prices, styles and blends to boot.

Mafia Maven
Lorraine Bracco - who played psychiatrist Dr. Melfi to Tony Soprano's brooding mafia head on the hit HBO series, The Sopranos - has released her own line of Italian wines, reportedly inspired by the ten years she spent living in France during her early career as a model. Made possible by a collaboration with importer Maison Jomère, the celeb's lineup of eight wines sell under the Bracco Wines (braccowines.com) label and include a Pinot Grigio, Primitivo, Amarone, Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino.

Top 10 Free Wine Tastings

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winetastingroom.jpgIt's a nice feeling to be welcomed in for a complimentary taste to savor a winery's best. Like fine art or local artists is for art lovers so is wine and the family winemakers for wine lovers. When we find one that resonates with our soul, it is hard not spend the money anyway. Here are some wineries who offer an open door and a free taste: 

Get Ready to Rock at Roshambo Winery

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By Courtney Cochran

Rock, paper, scissors, that is.  Playfully dubbed by its hosts "Wine Country's Sporting Event of the Year," Roshambo Winery's (roshambowinery.com) raucous annual Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament will take place this year on June 7 at the winery's hip new tasting room at Sonoma's Cornerstone Place (www.cornerstoneplace.com).

Oregon's Vital Center

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refrigerated-truck.jpg

By Robert Farmer

Those few I-live-in-a-cave-types who need further convincing that Oregon's wine scene is not just full-grown but thriving, need only look at the hard evidence. Or, in this case, brick-and-mortar evidence.

Recent news that the Oregon Wine Services & Storage company--a temperature-controlled storage space and distribution center--embarked on a $3.5 million dollar expansion to increase its 110,000-square-foot capacity by 60,000 square feet was certainly no surprise. It's a function of necessity. In a report this year from Silicon Valley Bank about the state of the wine industry, it was predicted that the wine industry as a whole, and in particular Oregon, will continue its record expansion.

A Word on Wine at Costco

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winebottles.jpgBy Robert Farmer

I've long been intending to share my thoughts in this space about buying wine at Costco, but there just always seemed to be more pressing and - yes - more interesting. But recently the Costco Wine section has been in the news, and so it seems appropriate to bring it up.

If you follow trends in the wine industry, you may have heard that recently Costco Wholesale Corp. lost its long battle to overhaul wine-distribution laws in its home state of Washington. Costco had originally sued the state for what it viewed as the state's violation on federal antitrust laws as they related to wine distribution in Washington.

This Mother's Day, Go Pink or Go Home

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rosewine.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

With rosé wine enjoying an unprecedented level of popularity stateside - The Nielson Company recently revealed that sales of premium pink wine rose an astounding 53.2% this year - there's never been a better excuse to drink pink on Mother's Day.  Indeed, from supermarkets to Costco to the nation's most tony wine merchants, bottles of pink are appearing on store shelves in greater numbers than ever before, leaving you no excuse not to go pink this Sunday.

Tips For A Terrific Home Wine Bar

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winestorage.jpgWhether your taste is grounded or grand, a few essentials will ensure your home wine bar is primed for the long haul:

Temperature plays a crucial role in the life of your wines. If you do not plan on cellaring your wine, consider a refrigerated system from Sub-Zero. This will also take care of humidity, which should be moderate.

By Robert P. Farmereastbayvintners.jpg

Most people rightly associate Wine Country - no matter which region you're talking about -- with the country. It's hard not to think about with Wine Country experience and not think about the bucolic countryside. It's the most common setting when one thinks about wineries and vineyards. But there is a growing trend in cities around the nation that is shaking that perception by its rootstock. The Urban Winery Phenomenon has recently been making more noise in the wine industry than a traffic jam in the heart of Market Street. And not only is it changing the way people taste wine, it's changing the entire concept of what constitutes a winery.

What's a Wine Cliché?

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By Robert Farmerwine label view.jpg

In the landscape of the written world, the dubious "cliché" is one of the most maligned creatures--something to be steered clear of, a menace to descriptive prose, ridiculed and frowned upon and, ultimately, often unavoidable. And since the written word also applies to wine labels, the loathsome creature frequently creeps its way onto that space as well.

Press Club Debut in SF

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By Robert Farmer
winerytastingroom.jpgFor a time -before I saw the light - I was somewhat opposed to the multi-winery tasting room. My preference had been for a tasting room to be not only to focus on a single winery's vintages, but also to be attached to that winery. It makes sense, you have to agree. But as I'm sure you'll also agree, I am right in tossing aside that narrow-minded attitude and embracing the new-style tasting room, the likes of which are proliferating these days in unexpected places. And so you can understand that recently, the opening of the Press Club in San Francisco was happy new for me. Not just because I happen to live in San Francisco, but also because this is an exceptionally fine example of the concept.

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